United Against Facism and Wisconsin Patriots Alliance protests bring hundreds downtown

United Against Facism and Wisconsin Patriots Alliance protests bring hundreds downtown

Close to 300 people gathered in downtown Madison on Saturday morning as part of a Second Amendment rally and counterprotest against it.

United Aganist Facism, comprised of multiple organizations from Madison and Dane County, say they formed as a response to a planned rally by the Wisconsin Patriots Alliance.

While dozens of members of the Patriots Alliance held the planned rally on the steps of the Capitol, hundreds from the countergroup sang, marched and spoke across the street.

A counter protest is brewing in Downtown Madison. The “unite against fascism rally is bringing groups from all across Dane County. Mayor Paul Soglin is here. You’ll hear from him tonight on #News3 @WISCTV_News3 pic.twitter.com/14pBzrajgA

— Adam Duxter (@News3Adam) January 12, 2019

“We want to speak out against division and hate,” said Frank Emspak, a representative for United Against Facism. “By coming here, we hope people do that.”

Emspak says there are concerns over what the pro-gun, pro-Second Amendment group stands for.

“Their vision is destructive, anti-people and anti-democratic,” he said.

Leaders from the Patriots Alliance say there have been misconceptions on what they believe.

“I think we can agree on a lot of things,” said Thomas Leager, a speaker for the Patriots Alliance. “I think the issues we can agree on we could have peaceful discourse.”

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin was also in attendance, showing his support to the United Against Facism group.

“I don’t see any basis for conflict,” Soglin said. “What I do see is an opportunity for those of us who believe in justice and equity to spread that message of kindness, of love, and to strengthen what America really stands for.”

Leager says his group is open to the idea of civil discourse.

“Shutting speech down and shutting down your opposition is not the way to a solution,” he said. “It’s a way to a civil war.”

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